Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ken Weathersby

163 (d & g)
Acrylic & Graphite on Canvas over Panel, with Removed and Reversed Areas
32" x 41"

Two sided painting.

I am a hedonist when it comes to painting. You can probably tell by now that I love the meatiness of paint, the way it looks and reacts. Which is why I was surprised by my attraction to the seemingly 'paintless' works of Ken Weathersby. Go look. This guy pays serious respect to the history of painting. (Where a dialogue takes place in which we consider that painting has made a break from it's function as an illusion of reality to being a function in and of itself - that of being a set of forms on a flat surface with four sides; dare I say, an object, conceptual or otherwise, to hang on a wall.)

A while ago I made reference to the fantasy of getting in and behind brushwork -to wonder how the artist has technically made a painting. Is the average punter likely to do that with painting today? Certainly, whilst once offering technically proficient representations of other worlds to marvel at, I wonder if painting today gives us a lot to think about and look at - but rarely a surface in which we're meant to get beyond. With Ken Weathersby's paintings we can do all this and more. Literally his figure (the viewer?) is diving into the painting, giving new meaning to the figure/ground relationship.

In this work (and others on his website) one can enjoy the reversed side. I wonder. Is this a double wink aimed at consumerist sensibilities where surface image is supreme, and painting itself. A two for the price of one deal. The banality of plaid sits neatly against meticulously worked wood panels; as if the two could represent something from a family man's workshop in the 1950s. Homely, bland, safe - a message to consumer (surface) culture; perhaps a salve for art onlookers, weary of abstraction and it's many confusing conundrums. But have a little read of his blog. There's a lot going on in his head which I make no claims to understand. What I know is that I like Ken's questioning and his attempts to offer answers to the beautiful puzzle that is painting.

Ken's work reminds me of this artist, Steven Harvey who, also preoccupied with questions of how to push painting to another level, has produced some really interesting pieces.

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